A five-day, multinational earthquake response exercise began off the coast of Haifa on Monday, the largest of its kind ever held in the region.
Dubbed “Mighty Waves 2019,” it brings together ten foreign navies and NATO units in coordinated operations with the Israeli Navy, as well as the Army and Air Force, in a simulated catastrophe involving thousands dead, over 100,000 injured, hospitals destroyed and national infrastructure in shambles.
“The goal was to learn how to give the best response possible under complicated circumstances,” Maj. Amichai Rachamim, the head of the Navy’s exercises department, told The Times of Israel last week.
“We have created an infrastructure that makes us feel comfortable that we could do this in the real world, if need be,” he told The Times of Israel on Thursday. “There are lacunae, but the fact that we’re doing this kind of exercise is good. We need to find the problems and train around them.”
Participating in Mighty Waves either actively or as observers are the United States, France, Greece, Cyprus, Chile, Italy, Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom and NATO. These observed and took part in non-physical aspects of the drill.
The last major earthquake to strike the region was in 1927 — a 6.2-magnitude tremor that killed 500 people and injured 700 — and seismologists estimate that such earthquakes occur in this region approximately every 100 years.
“So we’ve got about eight more years,” Brig. Gen. Gil Aginsky, the commander of the Haifa Base, quipped, quickly adding, “I’m just kidding.”